I haven’t known Erin Miller for very long, a year or so maybe. For some reason, she invited me to be friends on Facebook. We have much in common really, in spite of our 17 year age difference. Life experiences bring people together, commonalities make us close. I guess that’s what happened here.
I lost my son Shane in 2009. Erin lost her son Chad Miller in 2014. Our boys lived completely different life stories. Shane lived his life with a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy and all the fullest, most challenging pieces of what that means. Chad lived life large as a very talented hockey player, and athlete. But what they had in common was mothers who adored them, families that loved and supported every step of their short lives, friends whose lives were forever altered when the unthinkable happened. The devastated Moms they left behind were also a common thread in the fabric of the story of their lives. Women whose lives were forever altered having lost such huge pieces of their hearts.
Although Facebook connected us, we didn’t actually meet until late last fall, after the launch of her foundation #MillerStrong17. Before we escaped the harsh Canadian winter by heading south, I messaged Erin when I was heading into Winnipeg. We met and the connection was instant and deep, as we realized our shared experiences.
A couple of months ago, Erin sent me a page from Chad’s journal. She hadn’t known that he kept one until after his death, but in discovering it, she’s received an ongoing gift of words, wisdom and love from him. The page she sent to me told of his love and admiration for his Mom. How ‘Strong’ she was. About her having had him when she was only fifteen. Of all she did and gave to ensure that he had the amazing life he was living. Of her strength in being able to ‘keep giving love, and giving life’ regardless of the circumstances of their lives or what people might believe. Erin asked if I might be able to write a song reflecting some of what he had shared through his own words. The result was my newest song, simply titled ‘Strong’.
‘Strong’ is in honor of Chad, but is a tribute to every single person who has walked through the fire and come out on the other side. Singed by the flames of life, altered by events and in reality, changed forever…but ‘Strong’ because of it.
There was a time I really hated when people would refer to me as strong. “You are so strong, being able to handle having a child with a disability. You are so strong in the way you supported your loved ones through cancer and their eventual deaths. You are so strong to be able to share your experiences. And the ultimate….what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…or the Big Guy only gives you what your’e strong enough to handle.” There comes a time when you just want to shout ,ENOUGH ALREADY! I really don’t need any more strength!
But in reflection, strength has been the gift that has allowed us to come out the other side of the imaginable. It’s what’s allowed us to offer hope and inspiration to others who just don’t know if they can get through the next hour, day, week. It’s what has supported us to move forward into the new now that is our lives, and offer support to others that may need to borrow from the strength that has gotten us to where we are today.
That is what the hope for ‘Strong’ is. I want those that hear it to know that strength is within them as well, and that there are many of us walking this road alongside them. There are so many people making the best of life’s worst situations, keeping our heads above the waters of grief that threaten do drown us. Scarred people who are changing the world in little ways with the hope of leaving it a better, gentler place for others following in their footsteps. People who have found their own ‘strong’ and are using it as a force of good for others.
#MillerStrong17 is in its infancy, but as the #MillerStrong17 family continues to grow its reach and numbers, the strength of those numbers has the potential to elevate the vibration of this struggling world, one person at a time. Together, there is the potential to make change through finding and using our own strength and utilizing it to its best purpose.
As Rumi said, “we are all just walking each other home.” May we each take whatever it is that makes us ‘Strong’ and resilient and use it to make this journey the best it can be for each person we meet along the way. May we find ways to support each other, lifting each other up and offering a lifeline when we can. May our love enable others to find their own sense of ‘strong’ when they don’t think they have the ability to get through one more day. You can! You will find…you will know…then you will be ‘strong’ and your story may be the one that others will rely upon to know that they can get through life’s worst moments as well.
Moving far into October, change is everywhere around me, inside and out. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, and there have been a variety of reasons/excuses as the case may be, but it’s time to start again, afresh.
When I last wrote, it was from the home I’d dreamed of living in on the Island I’d long dreamed of inhabiting. And for all the time there, although it was short in the scheme of things, I loved it. I loved it to my core! But that said, something in my core was amiss, and the work became figuring out what that was and finding healing.
It started almost a year ago in October, changes to my bodies routines that told me something was wrong. As the months went on, and the fall, winter and then spring passed, answers still eluded us. As everything I put into my body coursed right through it, my weight began to drop as did my level of energy and my faith that it was something minor I was contending with. I felt unwell...and that to me is not a common feeling. I was frightened to say the least.
In July, I found myself having another colonoscopy, this time with biopsies being taken, on the morning of the same day that we’d planned to start our trip back east to the Prairies. The trip had been planned all year...first of all our 40th MacGregor Collegiate High School reunion, to be followed by a week or so with family and friends before heading to Kenora to work at the 2018 Leadership Camps. I was exhausted thinking about it.
I’d warned Mark that I might not be able to do this year’s camps, as I really didn’t feel well enough to commit. The camps are high energy, high outcome events, where I knew the way I was feeling would be a struggle, but I did promise that If I felt up to it I’d be there. In the days back in Manitoba, I continually did begin to feel better, and come the last week of July I did find myself at the McGregor Leadership Camp, doing my thing...coaching, sharing stories, playing my music.
I indeed felt well enough to participate, but also knowing my limits and challenges had warned Mark that I would be sitting more activities out than I typically did. He was good with that. As a result, I had more time to myself sitting in the cottage staring out at Lake of the Woods. Sitting out on the dock, soaking up the sun and fresh air. Sitting, reflecting and awakening as it were.
By the end of the first week of camp I came to the realization that while working with and challenging our participants to be clear on their values and vision, so that they can begin living their own life’s mission, I was not being true to my own. I’ve done the work and I know that some of my own strongest values are Family, Relationships, Love and Honesty, and yet in knowing that I was living halfway across this vast country of ours. I was miles and provinces away from our kids and grandchildren, from my oldest and dearest friends, from the work that is bubbling inside me to be done. I was indeed living my dream of returning to the Island of my birth, spending time close to the ocean waters I love, embracing my love of adventure and creativity, but began to realize there was another way to be doing that!
We have always loved the Kenora area, being near the incredible body of water that is called Lake of the Woods. What if we explored that as a possibility that would give me more of what I needed in all areas of my life? More time with family and friends here, but still the quiet and solitude that I crave to be my best creative self? More time to be still in one place, instead of the hours spent covering the thousands of kilometers that separated us from our legacy....these children that are growing up before our very eyes at what seems to be the speed of light. What if?
I proposed the idea to Cecil, and the spark in his eyes told me it was a need he’d been waiting on me to awaken to as well, and the search for our next ‘dream home’ began. Like everything else in my life it seems, I threw what I imagined out to the Universe, and today, only weeks after the thought first crossed my mind, I am sitting in my new living room staring out the window at the glassy waters of the lake before me. I have been in this space for mere weeks, yet I am at home! I am loving each moment...the morning call of the loons. The eagle that regularly sours directly over the house. The chickadees the are chattering in the trees throughout the yard. Even the mink that came and greeted FeeBee and I on the dock while Cecil was out kayaking the day after we arrived here. I have found and been blessed with what my heart has been conjuring for years, and am more blessed and grateful than I can say.
My heart also treasures every moment that I was able to spend in Qualicum Beach. We’ve made amazing friends that will always be in our lives. I was able to get back to my music, writing and creativity in a way I don’t think I would ever have been able to had that move not happened. I was also able to detach myself from old pain and heartaches in a way that having stayed in place before the move would not have allowed. Another day I will write about the gifts of finding a place to hold space for yourself. But that day is not today.
And my health? Well the biopsies showed that I have been living with microscopic colitis for the past year. It can only be diagnosed through biopsy of the large intestine, but once diagnosed, can be treated with steroids to reduce the inflammation and get things back on track. I am feeling so, so much better than I did for the last ten months.
I now often ask myself, would I have even thought about this move had I been feeling well enough to live life the way I had been accustomed to? Probably not, and although my condition now has a name and a treatment available, I think it was also part of my body’s knowing that I needed to make change if I was going to be the Granny that I aspire to be. If I am going to share the legacy and the wisdom of my ancestors, the hopes and dreams they poured through their sweat and efforts paving the way for this life I am so lucky to be able to live, I need to be present for those that may most benefit. If I am to live my life in a way that is aligned with my values and vision of what this journey of mine will result in, this is where I will be best able to do that.
The stars have once again aligned to ensure that my path is well lit to best achieve my purpose for being. Life is an amazing, beautiful thing. Being clear on what it is that matters most, makes it that much more incredible!
For several weeks now we’ve been watching the movement of the American youth, as they take on the challenge of the gun law legislation in the USA. In the first 16 weeks of 2018 there have been 20 school shootings that have resulted in loss of life or serious injury. The worst of this year occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 unsuspecting students and adults were slaughtered.
In the aftermath of that shooting, there have been youth led protests and marches across the United States which have rippled over into all parts of the world. In the protests, youth as young as 11 have begun to demand that society take a deeper look at what is happening as a result of the current gun legislation and imploring adults to do something about it before any more young lives are lost to the senseless gun violence that is becoming all too common in the lives of today’s children.
One of the lines that stuck out for me in the midst of watching all of these things take place across the nation was one commentators remark that “not finding any leadership, they have created it.” What a powerful statement on the potential and the passion that these young people are exhibiting. What promising hope they give us for a better tomorrow, in spite of the damaged world that we are handing down to them. Given the tools, resources and support, I believe that they offer us hope of a world that is more compassionate, that is safer, that is greener and that is more inclusive that the one we see today. They are our future, so how to we help them to create the best one possible?
With my children’s books, I attempt to reach kids in the early years and ask them to think about diversity, inclusion, friendship and belonging. I believe that the earlier we can get kids thinking about those things, the stronger their belief in a world that includes those qualities will be. The more we are able to help children to know that we all need to feel that we belong is instrumental in having so many of today's challenges resolved. If we can look at one another through eyes that see our similarities rather than our individual differences, there is a chance some of these attacks could be stopped. If some of the outcast individuals that commit many of the crimes had a stronger sense of self worth, would they act the way they have? It’s not the answer to all of the worlds problems, but at my core I do believe that it’s the start of something better.
Then I think about the Youth Leadership Camps that we are working to create through Mark McGregor Leadership, I can only imagine how far these impassioned youth could take the world if they had the tools and inner strength our camps offer. What if these young people had the resources and skills offered to them when they are 18 years old, and still have the energy, enthusiasm and commitment to make their world all that they believe it can be? What if they were given the opportunity to better understand the power of coaching and were able to lead others to follow the dream they see of what is possible in the years ahead? What if at 20 years old they had the opportunity to really be supported to dedicate intense and intentional time towards understanding their own values, vision and to know what their mission in life was at the beginning of the journey, instead of learning those things closer to the end? What if?
It’s true that so many people have never had the opportunity to think about that until they reach their 40s or 50s and only begin to think about those things when a personal crisis occurs. They’ve burned both ends of the candle for so long that yes, they’ve accumulated the material things that our society conditions us to believe we need to have to be effective, contributing members of the economic based world we live in. But in the accumulation of ‘stuff’, how many of us have lost ourselves? As coaches, it’s very often those people that come to us in hopes of making sense of lives that no longer make sense. They followed the rules, got the job, the house, the wife, the car but in exchange they gave up many of their dreams, passions and have never accessed or used the innate gifts that they were born with. Although they have acquired all the material possessions that we are driven to 'need', the efforts to do so have sabotaged their marriages, relationships with children and in many cases their connections to their own selves. As their lives edge closer to the finish line than the starting point, they now seek to understand who they are. Why are they here? What is their true purpose and is there still time to live that purpose in a meaningful way?
The answer of course is yes! It’s never to late to start, to reflect, to hit the reset button and begin anew. But in that same vein, it’s never to early either? Our greatest hope for the Youth Vision Camps is that we can take our own decades of struggling, learning and finally truly understanding, and share what we’ve come to know with those that are beginning their unique journeys. Imagine one of these passionate, fiery young adults having the opportunity to truly know what their values are so that they can create a life that reflects those values at all times. What might happen if they know what they’re passionate about, and instead of following the herd and getting the Bachelor of Arts degree, because that what seems sensible, they were encouraged to dive into that passion with tools and support to see what might be possible? To follow their hearts?
Vision Camps are created in hopes that we can take our years of knowledge and ‘pay it forward’ to the youth that attend, so that they can be fast-tracked to where they want their lives to head. They've been designed to help them to begin the journey with the end in mind, by understanding the importance of vision. Help them to know it’s okay to question the status quo, that there is always more than one way to get to where you want to be in life, and to know that it’s okay to question the way it’s always been...because the way it’s always been isn’t necessarily the right way.
Every generation has rolled their eyes and shook their heads at the generations coming up behind them, wondering how they are ever going to survive in ‘our’ world as we’ve created it. It’s time for that to stop, because ‘our’ world is going to be handed over to tomorrows leaders, so instead lets help them to be as strong, equipped and supported as they can be, because it isn’t just our world that they hold in their hands....it’s our future.
I waited for several weeks, in anticipation of what Gord Downie's release of his graphic novel, multi-media project 'Secret Path', was going to be like to actually watch. I'd watched all the promo clips, and posted many on my personal social media pages, as well as the pages I'm connected to through my work with Artists Against Racism. I was not oblivious to the part of our history that was the Residential School system, I'd been granted opportunities to know and expand my understanding of it, and have delved into learning more about it for myself in recent years. I was always glad for that knowledge and those that had shared their stories with me, but also sad for the time it took me to really embrace the need to learn about it.
I barely remember a time in my life where Indigenous people were not a part of my own story, from the age of six on. In the years beginning in 1984, when I had the local country store, dozens of my customers from nearby Long Plain Reserve tried to share their stories of life in those schools. But being younger and more naive, I heard...but I didn't really listen. I don't know for sure, but I believe that part of that inability to truly listen was the little voice in my head that wondered what the complaining was about, rather than their being glad they had the opportunity to receive an education? I really never asked deeper questions. I didn't have the maturity. I heard what they were willing to share, but I didn't listen to the deeper meaning they were trying to share with me. For that, I will always be deeply sorry, and sadly most of those that tried to shed light on their path for me to better understand their experience are now gone. I will never have the chance to honor their truth the way I now wish I could.
October 23, the 'Secret Path' was released to the public through a CBC special, where the graphic novel was brought to life for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Gord Downie had pointed his finger at all of us as he'd ended his last Tragically Hip concert in Kingston, and challenged all Canadians to take notice and to do better. Through sharing the Secret Path with us, he is giving us a door to walk through and open up communication that can start the road to our doing better. I was excited that the unveiling had come.
I watched a recording of the streamed event late that night, alone in my room at a friend's home in Redondo Beach, California. There was no surprises to the story, it's fifty years old and I have familiarized myself with it in recent years. What did surprise me was the impact of watching the animated book come to life through the songs that Gord had written to share Chanie Wenjack's experience as best he could...through his music. There was no doubt in my heart that a piece of Gord's soul is attached to this project with a direct link to Chanie's spirit. That became more and more clear as the experience unfolded before me.
When the animation was done, and the opportunity to watch a very ill Gord Downie sing one more rendition of the opening song was over, the pain in my own heart was measurable. I could feel the weight of Chanie's misery, a 12 year old boy, the same age as one of my own grandsons, struggling to escape the horror that was life at that institution in a hopeless attempt to find his way home. I could feel the weight of Gord's passion and purpose, as he'd shared what he refers to as his most important work ever. I could feel the weight of the gift and the responsibility to become part of the change that we are all challenged to be. Those weights resulted in a restless and dream filled night of Ravens, railroads and reconciliation.
In the light of day the real challenge still stares me in the face, as I try to put into action what my heart calls me to do. I was in Redondo Beach because I was attending the first International Grief Recovery Conference. It was a weekend of celebrating an accomplished model for mending broken hearts that has been around for over thirty years. We learned that we now have 5,000 Grief Recovery Specialists doing this deeply heart centered work in all but one continent, that one being Antarctic. We were given ideas on how to offer this tool more widely to children, to reach out to other businesses in our areas to reach a wider audience, how to better market our skills so that we can 'help the most amount of grievers in the least amount of time.' We learned that there are changes on the horizon that will help us to better keep up with the changing times, and that this will not be the final gathering of so many like minded people. Through it all, I was deeply reminded of the power of this tool and the need to be offering it more in the world.
When I returned to my room to watch the Secret Path, I was also reminded of how very, very badly our country needs healing. Healing between those of us that are considered the settlers, and those that were here before us, our Indigenous cousins. There is so much work to be done to make our country the truly great place that we were allowed to believe that it was...and that it can be...but it isn't yet.
So now the real work begins of finding ways to bring my ability to help people heal their broken hearts to people that badly need that opportunity to heal. People who need to have their own personal truth heard, honored and valued. Who need to have the opportunity to find completion to some of the grief and losses that have been holding them in a place of pain for much too long.
I will not be leaving this world a lineage through my bloodline, but I can leave a legacy through my actions. I need to do this for my 'children', and my children's children. I need to do this for my ancestors and those that went before me, instilling the value of all people deep into my being, and doing what they were able to from where they were at the time to make the world better. I need to do it for my friends past and present, who entrusted me with their stories and their experience, a trust I believe I have finally grown into. I won't forget what they experienced and shared, and I promise to find a way to help others understand the depth of the wounds that our history has left. I need to do this for my own heart, which has reminded me time and time again that I too have a deep purpose to fulfill in this life, and as the speed of the pounding in my own heart increases, I know that this work...this healing...this path...is part of the Secret Path that I have been working my way towards for so much of my life. It is slowly, and steadily being revealed to me, and I look forward to traveling down it with all those others that choose to mend this divide.
I don’t even know where to start…because there is no beginning, and no ending to the story that is unfolding ….the story that is my life right now, right here…so how do I explain things.
As I shared with you in earlier posts, decisions were made. BIG decisions, that resulted in my beloved and I moving from our comfort zone in Manitoba, living life as semi-retired farmers…to our new life here in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia.
None of it came easily. In the course of six months we made six trips across the prairies to move what was most important to our hearts here to the Island that promised us we’d find a sense of home and belonging. Six trips!!! At times, I cannot even believe we have traveled that much in an effort to be stable…it becomes an oxymoron of sorts…jumbo shrimp..running to be still. It’s been just a little bit crazy, but crazy we are, so here we are, finally taking a moment to catch our breath now. But in the stillness, the questions continue to abound.
Our Qualicum Beach home is now all but established. Yes, there are nooks, crannies and corners that need just a little ‘something more’ to be right…something that our Kijiji shopping and chasing has not yet provided, but all the essentials of that which we’re content to call ‘home’ has been established. The ‘little things’ that are missing will come with time. Example…a lamp in the living room. Until tonight…4 months post-possession, I have not really found it a problem that we don’t have any lamp/ lights in our home…besides those which are hard wired into the walls and ceilings. But tonight…as my beloved wanted to watch an action movie…my heart’s choice was to just take out my ‘Stress Relieving Coloring Book” and well…Color…but because we hadn’t made that little inconsequential purchase of a lamp I couldn’t. Another reminder of the little things that have a big impact. We will get there.
Four months into our transition, there are still as many questions as there are answers. With that, I have found that I need to live in the questions…because I know the answer will come eventually…and if I strain myself to know it, I may push myself beyond what I’m able to appreciate and understand at this point…so I live in the questions.
Here are a sampling of them….
So…tonight, as I sit here on a lazy Sunday evening , my desire to reflect is as strong as ever. I think about the quote I read about "the comfort zone being a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." Maybe it was just time to grow again.
This last couple of days have been the first that we’ve been able to just sit back and be without the need to travel east to clean up old business, or explore things here with company and friends. I’ve spent time out on the deck off the dining room that now has the beautiful ‘roof’ that our son Bill built when he came to visit with his family. As I listen to the sounds of the crickets in the distance, I love that I can sit and do that without the challenge of Manitoba Mosquitoes or West Coast rain…because that’s the way we’ve set things up. Intentional Paradise. I can sit for hours listing to the cricket in the distance…and just do that, without having to defend myself from the elements that would dictate …and ruin…my evening hours back on the prairies.
I am learning the benefits of just embracing a ‘Pooh’ day…spending time in the hammock that my beloved has anchored for me out in the trees beyond the yard…listening to the birds…and the insects…and the world go by…recognizing that yes, it’s a very good day…just because it is a very good day.
I am embracing the fact that I moved to this place because of its proximity to Spider Lake and all that that offered…and as I drove myself here on our initial move…Bob Seger was definitely singing ‘Let’s all Go to Spider Lake’…even though musical intellect says he was singing ‘Fire Lake’…that is not what my heart heard. So with that, I have finally given myself permission to just spend time at Spider Lake…with my man…with my camera…with my dog...in a kayak…and most important…with Spirit…make cruising those waters a priority. For no other reason than that the water is there…and so am I. What an incredible concept. What a gift, what a treasure of being.
So I will end things there for now…. living in the questions, and knowing there are no definite answers…. embracing the reality that that is okay. What I know for sure is that the answer will unfold when the time comes. For now, I know in my heart I have made the decisions to be here because this is where I am meant to be. The bigger reason for that is not for me to understand right now… but that’s okay. I know I am where I need to be, with who I need to be, loving all I am meant to be for now…..and that makes all of this perfect.
What questions do you find yourself living in at this time? What changes have you made that are leaving you a little afraid...a little nervous as to whether you're moving in the right direction in your life? What tools would help you to sort through those questions? Maybe I can help!
The #Future starts today, not tomorrow. How often do we forget that?
How many times to we put off doing the things that we most love, spending time with the people we most love, pursuing the passions that we most love believing that we don't have time today. Thinking that tomorrow the time needed will magically appear and we'll get at things then.
But the old saying goes, tomorrow never comes, and it's true isn't it. Tomorrow turns into another busy today, where the same reasons and excuses hold us back from doing what calls to our spirits.
With that in mind then, what are you going to do today, that will take you a step closer to the dream that lights the fire in your heart? What will move you in the direction of living a more full and passionate life? What you've always imagined your best self to be? You owe it to yourself to do something today...don't put it off until tomorrow.
It struck me this morning, in fact about ten minutes ago, that my own self talk and demands were causing my heart rate to rise and a certain level of anxiety to peak. I was rushing around the house (well, my version of rushing anyways :) ) having loaded the washer and the dryer, gone through the mental list of supper options, brushed my teeth and washed my face, and prepared my home office through my own series of rituals to get ready for my days start. As I reminded myself I had to settle down at my desk and tackle the next item on this week's to-do list, another part of my brain was complaining that I so wanted to write! In fact I realized I was beginning to feel angry that I had words in my head and thoughts on my mind that I needed to take time to get onto the written page, but by the time I finished going through the bills and emails and expectations of those on the other side of that computer screen, the energy and most likely the desire would be gone. Those ideas would be silenced for another day....and would likely moved on...because I didn't take the time needed to honour them and get them onto the written page.
Then it hit me, in the midst of the frustration of what wasn't going to happen, as i realized that there is not one soul here that is telling me that those are the things I must do first....except me! I am the one putting the pressure on myself about what needs to be done when and for who. I am the one that is prioritizing the needs and once again putting my own at the bottom of that list of priorities. I am the one that is saying what this day's accomplishments needs to entail for it to be successful. I am the one who is creating the frustration and the raised heart rate and the agenda of what needs to be done when. And with that sudden realization I stopped, turned around and left my office, grabbed my laptop and moved to my writing corner.
So here I am. And as I sit here, I have to keep asking myself why it is that I continue to do that to myself? Why do all of us continue to put those pressures of what is most important on our allotted time, when the reality is that feeding our spirits and our souls is the truly important work. Exploring what it is that is making us tick and feel joy and provide contentment and peace is the truly important work. What things will allow us to be our best selves and fulfill our highest purpose in this world as we continue on this journey is the truly important work. But it's not the work we do is it? It's not the work that we put first on our daily schedules or at the beginning of any list.
The truly important work is the work that we leave at the bottom of the pile, for when everything else is finished and we can tell the world outside we accomplished something that they can see as a 'result', while inside the work that calls to us lays dormant and unexpressed because all of our best energy and effort was put into the other stuff. Our creativity and our heart's desires are twisted into something else that allows us to do that which is expected by the outside world. Then, at the end of the day, when we finally do allow ourselves to move into the things we want to do, the time and effort needed to put that creativity back into its original form, the form that will allow us to grow and thrive, is too much work to be accomplished on this day. We are tired, and spent so we put it off until tomorrow, and instead zone out for the remaining hours of the days through getting lost in the television, or the surfing or whatever mundane actions quiet the frustrated spirit inside of us that is asking why it was hushed and put on hold yet again.
So this morning, instead of listening to the side of my brain that was pushing me towards that to-do list, I chose instead to listen to that little voice that was calling for me to pay attention to my heart instead. I am so glad I did. I feel my breathing beginning to slow again and my deeper self saying thank you, as these words pour forth onto the page.
Don't get me wrong. I know as well as anyone what needs to be done in a day. I know those bills need to get paid, that the chores need to be done, that the work that makes this life possible and affordable has to be taken care of. I know that family needs to be supported and loved and acknowledged. I know that. But what I have to remind myself of, and maybe you do as well, is that we have a choice and the control over how it is that we get those things done. I know I do...but I forget that, even with all my education, and experience and even my teaching others....I know that, and from time to time I forget. We all forget that the only one in control of us, our activities and our decisions is... well...us!
My scenario was that I told myself I have to do these things and do them now. After all, we had the time away embracing our desire to spend time on the coast, feeding our souls, so now that I'm home I need to put all that behind, buckle down, do the catch up work. Forget about what it is that I need to do to feel that same sense of peace and joy I feel when I can travel until what's sitting on my desk is done.
But that's crazy! I haven't spent the last years of my life making all I do portable only to be on lock-down when I return home! I haven't followed my passions for travel and writing and photography only to push it onto the back burner when I return to the 'real world' that is my life! This real world is my life, and it should be just as vibrant, and nourishing and spirit nurturing as time away is! So why do I not make it so? Why do I let it become mundane and routine and lost in a creative void instead of embracing the knowledge that this is it? This is the work of my life...sharing my experience, and my passions and my dreams from where ever I am at any given moment.
I know that maybe, because of the way I've worked to design my days, I have a different flexibility than another who has a more typical job that requires a daily trip to the office or another structure that provides the income that makes one's world go round. In that way it may be easier for me to go from my 'working' space to my 'writing' space with a simple spin on the heel. I'm 'lucky' I know, I've worked so hard to be this 'lucky' and I embrace it wholeheartedly. But you have choice too! Yes, you may have to be in that building from nine to five, and once you're home your energy for what feeds your soul is sapped... but what if you were to wake up a half hour earlier in the day and feed it then? What if instead of the radio on the commute to that place you listened to books or podcasts that fed that desire for deeper knowledge or learning? What if your lunch hours were spent taking care of your body and spirit in ways other than just feeding it...but maybe meditating, walking, yoga? Couldn't that be a possibility?
There are countless ways that we can work what's important into our days, but we have to do that. No one is going to do that for us. No one else is going to suggest that you put 'their' stuff on hold while you take care of your own. That isn't how this world of ours works I'm afraid. But that's okay, because we have choice and control and the ability to use it...but only if we decide to.
I feel so much better already! Now, when I head back to the 'other' room, I head back feeling content that I took time for me. I've had my moment, I can blow out the candle and let the incense burn itself out (some of my own writing rituals), reopen the blind and head into what also needs to get done, knowing that the voice inside me is content and happy that it was listened to. I can also remind myself that tomorrow I have the same choice. Tomorrow I can start my day with spending an hour on the guitar... or going through some of the thousands of photos I want to work on...or writing another chapter in a book thats living inside me. I can choose to make these things a priority. I can choose!
And so can you. Believe it or not, in this moment in time, so can you. It doesn't have to be a big, cumbersome all day event. It can be one little thing that lets that little voice of longing be heard.
What can you do today that will make your spirit feel listened to and supported on this journey? Maybe you should go and do that.
Have you ever read Mitch Albom’s ‘The Five People you Meet in Heaven’? Its one of my favourite books…well, maybe I should really say most of his books are ‘one of my’ favourites! But that one I love, mostly because in it Mitch proposes that heaven will be whatever we really, really want it to be, based on our life experience, our favourite moments and places, and what our perfect place would be. What a wonderful idea!
What is most incredible about is is how blessed I am that I am living in my heaven as I write. I’ve always loved and cherished this little nook in the world, but every year I think I cherish it more. We’ve created a little campground, up on the hill, in back of the main yard. It’s got the most beautiful sunsets over the Assiniboine River Valley. It’s so quiet, you could literally hear a pin drop, except when the generator is running to charge up the batteries in the 5th wheel. When it’s off, there isn’t a sound. Not the hum of a furnace, or traffic, or anything. What there is are birds, insects, the gentle breeze and occasionally the howl of coyotes in the distance.
We put our camper up here early in the year, and take advantage of as many moments as we can. I can tether my cell to get a little wifi reception, to work on things that I’m passionate about pursuing. The cell phone might ring, but most times not. And for the most part it is absolute, blissful peace and tranquility. It feeds my soul and nourishes my spirit like nothing else seems to be able to do. Time at the ocean comes close, but that always comes at a cost…the price of energy expended to share that space with the hundreds of other people who have chosen that as their get away of choice. This is different. This is ours, and the only other people that might be here in this little niche are those we’ve invited to embrace this with us.
I like the camper, because that is ‘my space’. Cecil prefers the quiet and the rustic life he can enjoy in his cabin, just feet away from where our camper is sitting. On the deck of the cabin, we’ve got the greatest swing that was given to us by friends who were moving and decided not to take it with them. We can sit and swing and just stare out into the beauty of the valley for hours, without the need for a word to be spoken. Just drinking in the beauty and the quiet that is this place.
We all need that ‘place’ that is ours to go to. To gather our spirits, reboot and reenergize our souls and ground ourselves for all that the world throws at us. I know how lucky I am to have this, and hope that you have a place of your own that does that for you. It doesn’t have to be large, or remote or even space that is your own, if it’s somewhere that allows you to breathe more deeply and connect more solidly with the source of what keeps you going day after day. If you don’t have that space for you….you need to find one. Honor yourself by making finding that space that is yours a priority, not something that you’ll do one day. Something you will do now, before the world pulls any more from you that you don’t have a chance to replenish.
Some people are pulled to nature, as I am. Others find that in a sacred building, a sanctuary, a coffee house that affords them a corner to themselves, or a museum. It can be on a bench along a small strip of greenspace, or a walkway along the water’s edge. It can be whatever your idea of Heaven might be, even if it’s a sacred space you’ve created in your own home that is yours to go to and be undisturbed for the time needed to replenish yourself. The where is as individual as each of us are, but the need to find this and gift it to ourselves is universal. Have you found your little peace of ‘heaven’ here on earth that nourishes you? If not, what are you waiting for….because you know it’s waiting for you.
When we are being who we truly are, our days flow, our time is spent doing things that call to our hearts. We're allowed to use our gifts in ways that are meaningful to us, and hopefully helpful to others. There is joy in what we're working on and creating, and I saw a great quote on facebook the other day that said when we are working hard on something that we don't care about, it's called stress. When we are working hard on something that we do care about it's called passion. Loved that explanation!
So I have been working harder of late, but it's all be on what I am passionate about. My most recent project was to finish a song I'd been working on to hopefully continue to play a role in raising the awareness of our missing and murdered women, men and children. I think when you find something that calls to your heart, you can find ways to make a little difference from wherever you are. I am hoping that this will do that.
In the midst of it all, I'm continuing to learn, and grow and expand my own knowledge, and that is such a marvelous feeling. To know that at whatever stage of life we're at we can continue to grow and develop skills that allow us to be more effective at whatever it is we're hoping to achieve on this journey. Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. That's this weeks message to myself, and anyone who takes the time to read this. Never stop doing any of them, and if in doing so you have the chance to make a small difference in the world. Then do it..we're all in this together, it's time we remembered that
So to close, here's the video I worked on and put out into the world this week. Quality is home grown, and hopefully down the road there will be a better version, but for now, it's the message I want to share. It's not about perfection. It's about just doing our best as it currently is. Thanks for letting me share.
I found this video just at the perfect time, and it resonates to deeply with the things I'm feeling these days. My husband will tell you and confirm, that I am as guilty as anyone of multi-tasking...especially when it's just he and I. Why do we do that, why do we work so hard to keep connected with people and groups and causes around the world, at the neglect of the one who is sitting here right within reach. I know I'm not the only one, but I am the only one I can make change this habit.
We all find it so easy to get distracted. To keep checking for texts and facebook notices and instagram pictures...that we miss out on the connection that is right in front of us. To be Truly Me, I have to get better at that. This video was a great reminder to me to be more present especially here at home, where at the end of the day, it's where your presence is most valued, most appreciated and most remembered.
Take a moment to watch the video, then tell me it doesn't strike a chord! This season I hope more of us can commit to #GivePresence in our homes, our communities and in all places where we have an opportunity to make an impact!
WARNING: It does manage to drop an f-bomb, that I'd prefer they hadn't, because I think we can get messages across to people without resorting to that , but I do like the underlying message.
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!